Earlier this week Manufacture & Industry had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jim Pickles, director of D.S DUNDEE at the inaugural Stitch menswear trade show at Old Billingsgate Market.
Pickles founded the traditional heritage label in the mid 90s in Scotland with Ollie Pilcher, a fashion photographer. After doing their own thing for a few years they relaunched the label in late 2007 and are now based in Dalston, London.
We were immediately drawn to the brand's 'Made in the UK' labels so asked them a few questions:
M&I: Where are you selling your wares?
JP: We've our own store on Spitalfields market, opposite the Ten Bells pub. It's been a pop-up situation but we're hoping to make it more permanent. We've been there since mid-December and it's gone brilliantly, we've virtually sold out.
M&I: Why Spitalfields for the store?
JP: A, it's a mile down the road from the studio and B, it's on the edge of the city so we get a good mix of the city boys, the tourist trade on Sundays and you also get the hip East London guys too. It's becoming a bit of a destination now with a few other mens brands having moved in, the new Covent Garden, I think.
M&I: Can you explain a little about how you source and produce your collections in the UK?
JP: Since we set out on the relaunch we've been all about sourcing traditional heritage fabrics and have been working closely with a lot of the tweed and woolen mills that still exist in Scotland, Yorkshire - the traditional roots of the industry. By visiting them we look through their stock collections and we've come across some really nice traditional fabrics like the Melton, the tweeds; we're now working with Harris Tweed on one of our styles. So we're getting hold of these traditional fabrics and putting them into a more contemporary fit and styling.
M&I: What is the importance of having a connection with the UK for the brand?
JP: It's really important to have a link to the UK in terms of either the cloth or the manufacturing. It's very difficult from a business perspective to have both because then it becomes a very expensive product and a lot of the time it is very difficult to find the manufacturers who will help you out, especially when you're dealing with smaller numbers as you're starting out. Sometimes you just can't find manufacturers full-stop. In terms of the knitwear, we're working with a factory up in the Scottish borders that produce for us. The tailoring, all the manufacturing we get done in Portugal but using the UK cloths. The footwear, we're working with Cheaney of Northampton, that's been fantastic for us this season, we've had some very good orders placed on those. The Fair-Isles are hand-knitted up in the Shetland Isles, by a company called Jamieson's. They've been going down particularly well with the Japanese market.
M&I: What are the benefits of D.S DUNDEE being made in the UK?
JP: You've got the menswear consumer who works against the high-street, mass-produced, sweatshop thing. They want to buy into a brand like us, where they can buy a piece that will last them season after season. They'll maybe spend the same amount on one piece as they would on several high-street items, but they will only last a couple of years before being out of shape and ruined in the wash.
M&I: Do you work to a seasonal cycle?
JP: We do the two main collections, Spring/Summer (S/S) and Autumn/Winter (A/W). With the fabrics that we use, because it's British stuff, it is heavier cloth as the sheep are more hardy. Therefore the A/W season is stronger for us but we're going to try and make the S/S season just as good by focussing on accessories and a Scottish nautical theme. We'll be doing luggage, we're doing a collaboration with a UK trainer manufacturer, Mors. We're keen on the dual UK brand thing.
D.S DUNDEE's store can be found at 105A Commercial Street, Spitalfields Market, London E1 6BG
For a full list of stockists click here.
Also worth a look is the D.S DUNDEE blog, we particularly enjoyed the field trip to Marling & Evans.
Picture from D.S DUNDEE's flickr resource.